I’m at a coffee shop in Minneapolis, and they are playing that Enya song from L.A. Story. I watched that movie over 100 times so far and still love it – in fact, it’s one of the few dvd’s I kept. My dad used to play that Enya song over and over on his computer, as he did many songs that sparked his curiosity over the years. The movie’s plot can be summed up with this line, spoken by Steve Martin as narrator:
“Shakespeare said, ‘Hey…Life is pretty stupid; with lots of hubbub to keep you busy, but really not amounting to much.’ Of course I’m paraphrasing: ‘Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.’Steve Martin in L.A. Story
I think Dad lived that way and likely believed in Shakespeare’s quote. My dad did, after all, invest hundreds of hours, literally, watching plants grow in our backyard garden. He liked watching plants grow, and that was part of his brilliance. My Grandma, whom I also love dearly, once said testily to me, “If he thinks he can sit in that garden all day and do nothing, he’s got another thing coming!”
One time my dad was sitting in the garden doing not much at all, and I walked out to converse with him, as I would often do, and in our conversation, he said, “I’ve tried lots of drugs, but none of them beats this.” He was speaking his truth. My dad was born with complex mathematical mental capacities and impressive physical talents. He could play Hungarian Rhapsody #2 on the piano from memory to both straight and jazz rhythms. Like other brilliant people, he had his idols: “My dad could play the hard version of Hungarian Rhapsody #2,” he told me once about my Grandpa’s piano skills. My dad was also exceptionally-skilled at solving Jumbles. But he never thought much about anybody’s mental or physical capabilities, instead just appreciating and basking in visitors’ ability to stand for something (anything!) and pushing others’ curiosities in whatever it was they were curious in at the moment.
And here I am, at a coffee shop, hundreds of miles from the garden in Richmond, my dad’s body turned to ash spread across the ocean floor and San Francisco bay. Still, I like to think I’ve kept his curious spirit alive – the spirit of appreciating the meow of a cat or the wavering of a tall piece of grass in the wind or the peaking-out of a sidewalk under snow. Life is full of everything, and then we die. And some day the Earth will be consumed by the Sun, and our entire planet’s history will go hurtling across the Universe to an unknown ending (or maybe until infinity). But my Dad’s curious spirit will never die.